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Cybercrime is a Global Problem; Increasingly Social and Mobile (2012 Norton Cybercrime Report)

Created: 05 Sep 2012
Marian Merritt's picture
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The Norton Cybercrime Report is out for 2012! Cybercrime continues to have far-reaching effects- and increasingly a problem on mobile devices and in our social networks (where we seem to be less vigilant).

After surveying more than 13,000 consumers in 24 countries, the researchers found that the numbers of online adults increased by 20 percent from last year, and that cybercrime impacted just under ½ of them in the previous 12 months. The total direct consumer cost was calculated to be $110 billion, slightly down from last year’s $114 billion (USD), with the average cost per victim down approximately 20 percent. The reason the overall cost remains so high is that the pool of victimized online adults grew more rapidly - in other words, less money, but from more victims.

The nature of the crimes is shifting towards the social networks we love and the mobile devices we use constantly. Consumers seem to have figured out the basics of protecting themselves on their desktop and laptop computers and report using basic security measures and caution to stay safe. It would seem they’ve really gotten the message about things like being careful what you click on and deleting suspicious emails without opening them. Programs, like the October Cyber Security Awareness Month and the NCSA’s “Stop.Think.Connect.” campaign, are likely having a positive impact on consumer behavior!

Yet, if our preferred way to connect online is via our mobile devices (2/3 of respondents use a mobile device to connect to the Internet), we’ve got to start taking the same security measures there. That message hasn’t yet penetrated to the consumer, so the behavior on mobile devices is still pretty casual. 44 percent of the study participants were unaware that mobile security solutions even exist! (I highly recommend the Norton website to learn more about the issues facing the mobile device user.) Mobile vulnerabilities are up and malicious apps in the mobile app stores are a growing concern.

I mentioned a shift in cybercrime towards social networks as well. Last year’s study found that 11 percent of people have had their social account hacked. This year, the number is up to 15 percent. The total rate of cybercrime on social networks (more than simply a hacked account, but also including harassment, bullying, click- or like-jacking, and falling victim to scams) is 39 percent.

We’ve put a slideshow together that shows the headlines of the study and how it was conducted.

There’s also a nifty infographic with a concise visual story on the topic. Bottom line: While the makeup of cybercrime continues to shift from increasingly protected environments like computers to the less guarded and extremely vulnerable social networks and mobile devices, consumers must increase their vigilance. Continue with best practices like being careful what you click on; not responding to unsolicited or mysterious messages whether email or text; installing and maintaining comprehensive security software; and creating complex and unique passwords for devices and online accounts.

See also “Cell Phone Safety Tips for Kids”

See also “Let Me In! 10 Tips to Better Passwords”

2012 Norton Cybercrime Report press release can be found here

This post has been cross-posted from The Ask Marian blog at